The Villages Leads the Way in Older Youth Services

The Villages is excited to be one of the leading agencies involved in Indiana’s Collaborative Care program, providing support and services to youth aging out of foster care.  We are currently working with over 300 youth.  A recent article written by Indianapolis Star reporter, Tom Coyne, shares the story of one of The Villages’ youth and how he achieved success thanks to this program and his Villages’ case manager.

Program gives former foster kids a safety net
By Tom Coyne 

SOUTH BEND — The assistance Chris Bailey received paying rent and utilities after dropping out of college helped the former foster child adjust to life on his own. Having someone to talk with who could offer advice was even more valuable.  “We would just hang out and talk about life. He helped me set goals, both short term and long term,” Bailey, 21, said of his case manager. “It really just helped me in growing up.”  The help came through Indiana’s Collaborative Care program, which was started two years ago to help fill the gaps left when youths age out of traditional foster care at age 18.

Alishea Hawkins, assistant deputy director of services and outcomes for the Indiana Department of Child Services, said the program provides financial and emotional support to help participants become self-supporting adults. Services include helping older teens live on their own and offering programs that teach household and life skills.  “Many of our young people grow up in foster care, where they are told what to do, when to do it and how to do it,” she said. “So many of these young people get to late adolescence, and they really don’t have the skills and abilities to make those decisions.”

To be eligible, youths must be in school or working at least 80 hours a month or enrolled in a program that will help them get a job by providing money for housing and life-skills training. Participants can live in a host home, a group home, a college dorm or an apartment.

David Reed, senior director of client services at The Villages of Indiana Inc., an Indianapolis based agency that works with aged-out foster children, said the program is critical. “They are not prepared at age 18 to be able to go maintain an apartment and have food in their refrigerators and their pantries,” Reed said. “They need support from the state to provide those very basic things to help keep them alive.”

Bailey understands those needs. At 12, he was placed in state care. From 14 to 16, he was moved into nine foster or group homes. His younger brother was adopted along the way. At 16, he moved into a group home. He considers the people who operated the home to be his parents. Collaborative Care wasn’t available when Bailey graduated from Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis. He heard about it after he dropped out of Indiana State University. The support helped him save enough money to move back to Central Indiana and get a good job, he said. He works in information technology for Lebanon Community Schools and has been married for four months. Although he’s out of the program, he still keeps in touch with his case manager. “It’s nice the program is there, especially for kids who don’t have anything or anybody,” he said.

Article published in the Indianapolis Star on August 18, 2014

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